Sunday, March 29, 2009

Ralph Nader: An American Hero

We all know him. Love him or hate him, Ralph Nader has shined for over five decades as one of America’s greatest leaders. Instead of holding public office or becoming CEO of a major corporation, Nader has led his people through mostly the democratic means he strives for on a daily basis.
Ralph Nader was born on February 27, 1934 to Nathra and Rose Nader. Nader proved to be a determined and excelling student, and went on to attend two Ivy League colleges, Princeton University and Harvard Law School. He became a successful attorney, displaying the clear leadership qualities of being able to stand up for what one believes is just as well as defending one’s clients.
Our hero rose to immediate fame and national prominence in 1965 through the highly eye opening, automobile expose, Unsafe at Any Speed. The noteworthy work of muckraking journalism became an instant classic, enlightening ordinary American citizens to politicians in Washington on how the automobile industry, particularly General Motors, were producing unsafe vehicles for the American public.
The fame paved the way for further legislation regarding automobile safety as well as Nader’s own career as a “Consumer Advocate.” This self-proclaimed title has made him the prominent American leader, people recognize him as. He began to form various non-profit organizations supporting consumer protection and other interests of the people. With such prestige, Nader became a major leader in social activism. It is safe to say much of his leadership style has been democratic. However, this is certainly not true of all his organizations. With close inspection of their structures, one can see that Nader exhibits other forms of leadership as well.
By the early 1970s, Ralph Nader had inspired hundreds of young men and women to become activists and increase their participation in the political process. These devout followers of the consumer advocate came to be known as “Nader’s Raiders.” These apprentices fronted dozens of Nader’s non-profit organizations and interest research groups, researching anything to do with governmental, corporate, or congressional corruption, amongst new ways to protect the American consumer at all times.
As a leader, Nader sets himself as a great role model for his employees or co workers, depending on the organization. He is efficient, determined, and respectable; qualities necessary for a strong leader. In terms of specific styles, Nader displays democratic leadership because he makes his best attempts to listen to all of his workers’ opinions. In many ways his organizations are free rein. Nader creates an organization and then leaves the decisions up to the members themselves, where they run mostly everything, while he just oversees their conduct and behavior. His organizations could be seen as self-managed teams in this sense as well; small groups focus on specific issues, with one issue for a specific group. One group will take an environmental issue, while another may focus on health concerns, and yet another on economic policies, and so on. Finally, another leadership style the man demonstrates is one that is quite ironic and even shocking, considering his constant strive for democracy, rather than autocracy or rule of the many, rather than rule of the few. But, there is a reason why the documentary film capturing his life and career is humorously titled, An Unreasonable Man. Nader is a hardliner and must stick with his first and foremost objective: making sure the United States is a safe place for its inhabitants. Therefore, Nader is strict in making sure his workers are creating nothing less than perfect protection for American citizens and consumers. Alas, disagreements on how to deal with certain issues have led to the firing of employees. But, after all he wants to make sure he gets the job done.
Clearly, Ralph Nader’s diverse, but mostly democratic leadership style has been effective and has created a precedent for more and more leaders, businesses, and organizations. Before Nader, there was no such thing as consumer advocacy. Now, there are hundreds of thousands of such workers, most working for Nader himself. Without a doubt, he created this environment and now it is everywhere. Government agencies and businesses are far more careful than they were four or five decades ago. This is a direct result of Nader’s involvement. On a final note, in 1974 Ralph Nader was ranked the 4th most influential person in the country by the U.S. News and World Report; most likely the only person on the list that contributes millions each year to the over four dozen non-profit organizations that he founded.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Your comments are valued greatly. Please adhere to the decorum on the "First time here?" page. Comments that are in violation of any of the rules will be deleted without notice.

3/11 Update - No Moderation

*Non-anonymous commenting is preferred to avoid mix-ups. Anonymous comments are, at the behest of management, more likely to be deleted than non-anonymous comments.